Firoz Lalji was born in Uganda and came to the UK to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), graduating with a BSc in Economics in 1969.
After meeting and marrying Najma in Uganda, Mr Lalji and his family were forced out of the country in 1972 when dictator Idi Amin expelled many of its Asian citizens. The family moved to Canada, where he built a successful chain of 225 specialty photo stores in Canada and the USA, which was sold in 1997.
Mr Lalji is Owner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Zones Inc, a Seattle-based global provider of IT products and solutions to businesses, which he co-founded in 1988. Throughout Zones’ history, Mr Lalji has provided the vision and leadership necessary to transform the company into a global solutions provider and award-winning business enterprise. In addition to Zones, he owns the Fana Group of Companies, a real estate investment organisation in the United States and Canada.
Mr Lalji serves on multiple advisory boards, including the Board of Directors of US Bank of Washington, the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest Ballet and LSE’s North American Advisory Board. He also attended Harvard Business School for an Owner/President Management (OPM) programme from 1991 to 1993.
The Lalji family are longstanding and generous supporters of the School, having first endowed a master's degree scholarship in 2009 for students from Uganda. In 2012, their support enabled the establishment of the Programme for African Leadership (PfAL) at LSE, which since then has awarded 80 full master’s degree scholarships to African nationals and each year continues to provide a bespoke programme of leadership development activities for African graduate students at the School.
In June 2016, through the Lalji Family Foundation, an endowment was established to create the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa at LSE with a gift of £10 million to support its activities of fostering African leadership, academic excellence and a commitment to the transformative power of research and teaching from LSE, alumni and partners in Africa. This gift takes the Laljis’ transformative support of the School to £13 million, securing continued institutional engagement with the African continent. In June 2021, the Centre became the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa to expand and build upon the Centre's objectives.
Image Credits: Owen Billcliffe Photography